May Day Magic from Shady Pines

May Day Magic from Shady Pines

Believe it or not, we’ve made it to the first of May. You know what that means? It’s May Day! During this fretful time of Coronavirus, many of us won’t be able to gather for some of the usual ways to celebrate. Dancing ’round the Maypole may have to wait another year due to social distancing. But that doesn’t mean you and the kids can’t find ways to enjoy this springtime tradition. There’s a few activities you’re sure to enjoy that we want to share.

Our very own Zulah Talmadge, editor of The Shady Pines Gazette newspaper, is exploring ways to give new meaning to May Day this year. She talked to some moms here in Shady Pines Story Town about things families can do to mark this special day. They told her it’s all about sharing and caring. Well, those are two themes we especially like! 

“So, here’s what you need to let kids know,” says Zulah. “May marks the blooming of flowers and the arrival of a new season — which is a reason enough to be excited. Since spring is a time when the grass turns green again, the trees sprout leaves and the flowers bloom, there is color and delightful aromas all around us. Caring for nature is a wonderful lesson to share with young children.

After all this is a good time to get back to nature as much as you can. Plant some flowers in the back yard or in planters if you’re in an apartment. You can even start an herb garden in a container so you’ll have fresh ingredients when you cook your next meal. The other thing that these moms suggested is to share a dance with your children. You can do that anywhere you live.

As for the sharing part of May Day, this is where you bring a gift to a loved one, a friend or a neighbor. Maybe you want to do something special for your grandma or grandpa in a nursing home. You might want to leave a basket or card for the person who brings you your mail, or for the medical workers trying so hard to keep us all safe and heealthy. Staying with our theme, you can make a May Day basket or a card to share with them.

Part of the fun of this activity is the happy surprise you’re leaving for someone else to enjoy. It’s also a way to re-use that easter basket of yours! If you’d like to have some help in making your very own May Day gift, we’ve got some ideas for you. This is an activity you and the kids can do together.

The result will be showing that you’re sharing your lovely creation with someone and demonstrating that you care about them very much. Now, isn’t that a tradition worth adopting?  Just GO HERE TO GET SOME BASKET MAKING IDEAS.”

Happy May Day Everyone!

Please leave a comment below.

St. Patrick’s Day Traditions


Here in Shady Pines Story Town, we love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. You can read about how we celebrate by going HERE. This is a holiday known for parades, shamrocks and all things Irish. From leprechauns to the color green, find out how symbols we now associate with St. Patrick’s Day came to be, and learn about a few that are purely American invention.

The Shamrock

The shamrock, which was also called the “seamroy” by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English began to seize Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of their pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule.

Did you know? The color traditionally associated with St. Patrick was blue, not green.

Irish Music

Music is often associated with St. Patrick’s Day—and Irish culture in general. From ancient days of the Celts, music has always been an important part of Irish life. The Celts had an oral culture, where religion, legend and history were passed from one generation to the next by way of stories and songs. After being conquered by the English, and forbidden to speak their own language, the Irish, like other oppressed peoples, turned to music to help them remember important events and hold on to their heritage and history. As it often stirred emotion and helped to galvanize people, music was outlawed by the English. During her reign, Queen Elizabeth I even decreed that all artists and pipers were to be arrested and hanged on the

Today, traditional Irish bands like The Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem are gaining worldwide popularity. Their music is produced with instruments that have been used for centuries, including the fiddle, the uilleann pipes (a sort of elaborate bagpipe), the tin whistle (a sort of flute that is actually made of nickel-silver, brass or aluminum) and the bodhran (an ancient type of framedrum that was traditionally used in warfare rather than music).

The Snake

It has long been recounted that, during his mission in Ireland, St. Patrick once stood on a hilltop (which is now called Croagh Patrick), and with only a wooden staff by his side, banished all the snakes from Ireland.

In fact, the island nation was never home to any snakes. The “banishing of the snakes” was really a metaphor for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland and the triumph of Christianity. Within 200 years of Patrick’s arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.

Corned Beef

Each year, thousands of Irish Americans gather with their loved ones on St. Patrick’s Day to share a “traditional” meal of corned beef and cabbage.

Though cabbage has long been an Irish food, corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day at the turn of the century.

Irish immigrants living on New York City’s Lower East Side substituted corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save money. They learned about the cheaper alternative from their Jewish neighbors.

The Leprechaun

The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow.”

Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day To You!

Pine Cone Corner Valentine’s Day Activity Packet

Pine Cone Corner Valentine’s Day Activity Packet


Beyond hearts and flowers, here’s something that you and the kids will enjoy doing together on the day devoted to love.

You know we’re always cooking up new things for you and the kids to do, not just online, but also off line. Now we’re bringing you something we’ve never offered before.

It’s a family-friendly bundle of fun.

It’s the very first Activity Packet from Shady Pines Story Town just in time for Valentine’s Day!

This offering delivers more kindness and caring from the town where civility lives.

You’ll find a heartwarming story from Edna’s Kitchen, along with one of her favorite recipes for cheese fondue. There’s also a coloring download of her souped-up blender, Gertie, as well as other wonderful puzzle pages.

Check out this wonderful special delivery with Boomer and Halley right on the cover. You’ll love it!

Pine Cone Corner Valentine’s Day Activity Packet

Help Your Child make New Year’s Resolutions

The year is winding down and the folks in Shady Pines Story Town are looking ahead. They’re turning their attention to New Year’s resolutions. These first-of-the-year goals are fun to discuss and write down, but often hard to follow all year long.

So, how do the adults in our community guide children to make good resolutions? We turn to some parenting experts for their advice. They say it’s important to be upbeat, make it a fun activity, and try not to force ideas but let kids come up with their own. Here’s a way to start:

Lead by Example

  • If you want your family to make healthy eating a priority this year, explain what that a healthy diet means for you with examples like:

“You know how much your dad and I love pizza. This year we’re going to eat less pizza and have more fruits and vegetables instead.” “We want to have more family dinners. So, we’re going to limit the amount of fast food we eat, and instead make more meals together.”

Be Specific by Setting Goals

  • Start with some broad categories like personal, friendship, helping and school goals.

Asking questions can help you gauge which of these categories are most important to them. Some examples: “Can you think of some things you might do better or differently? Do you remember a time when you might have been nicer to someone at school? Or, treated your brother or sister better? Are there ways to share more with your friends? How about helping out more around the house?”

Attach Action to the Resolutions

Let’s say your child’s resolution is to keep his or her room clean. Have them write down six easy steps they can practice each week, like:

Week #1:  I will put my shoes in the closet at night
Week #2:  I will put my toys away after playing with them

Some other ideas:

  • I will help around the house – by doing the dishes
  • I will improve my reading – by reading 15 minutes before I go to bed
  • I will eat more healthy foods – by eating one fruit at breakfast and one vegetable at dinner

Build Upon Success

Experts agree it takes up to six weeks to create a habit so do this for a month and a half and see how things are going. You and the kids can always start adding things to build upon successes.

Here’s to a great 2019!!!

Pine Cone Corner Valentine’s Day Activity Packet

Save The Day Recipe

Can you believe that Tiny won the Turkey Trot race in Shady Pines Story Town? Wasn’t that fun?

You can understand why Edna can’t bring herself to serve turkey this Thanksgiving after this fabulous feathered friend won the hearts of all who met him. She is reaching into her box f recipes and is pulling out one that fits this occasion. You and the kids can do this one together.  Harold, Boomer and Halley will be having a non traditional meal this year!


Pine Cone Corner Valentine’s Day Activity Packet

A Gratitude Tree of Your Own

Now that the good folks of Shady Pines Story Town have shown you the fun and importance of gratitude this season, why not make your own Gratitude Tree? There are so many ways to do it. No one way is better than another. This idea is from Mindy who has a Blog called, The Inquisitive Mom. Here’s how she discovered how to make one for her family.

How to Create Your Own Gratitude Tree (Thanksgiving Tree)

I was covered in flour, hands deep in pie dough yesterday when Ella approached me with a children’s magazine open and enthusiastically asked, “Can we make a gratitude tree?” A list of materials needed and the accompanying mess ran through my head, but I quickly set them aside. What’s a bit more mess – especially for a cool project like this.

A Thanksgiving or Gratitude Tree is a paper tree decorated with colorful leaves sharing the many things you are thankful for. The supplies needed are simple and you probably have them on hand.

This would  make a great Thanksgiving Day project for kids or the whole family, especially if you think of it less as a decoration and more as a creative project and a fun way to focus on gratitude.


  • Brown paper for the tree. You can use construction paper, paper bags, or even brown packing paper like we did.
  • Red, yellow, and orange construction paper for the leaves. You could also print colored leaves and simply cut those out as well, but we had fun drawing ours.
  • Markers
  • Tape
  • Scissors


Create a tree with branches to the scale you would like for your wall space. You can trace the tree before cutting or free form cut. You can also crinkle your paper to give it a cool effect.

Tape the tree to the wall.

If you would like to cut a hole in your tree for a squirrel or other animal friends, do so before taping it to the wall. Fold your piece of brown paper in half, then cut out a half circle away from the folded edge. After the tree is taped to the wall, you can add in scrap pieces of paper to give it dimension.

Trace and cut leaves from the red, yellow, and orange construction paper. Gather some leaves from outside or pull up a few different types of leaves on your computer screen for inspiration. Remember, leaves come in many varieties and have imperfect edges.

Write something you are grateful for on each leaf. Tape the leaves on the tree branches.

Step back and enjoy your creation.


The magazine provided leave patterns to cut out, trace, then cut out again. Luckily, Ella has inherited a bit of my “experience over end results” mentality and we quickly decided to simply free form our own leaves. Printing leaves and cutting them out is also an easy option for this project, but we enjoyed sitting together, drawing, and cutting the old fashioned way.

Ours was an impromptu project and we lucked out with the large brown packing paper that arrived in our shipment of Molly’s Suds today. I love how it is crinkled and gives the impression of tree bark and looks more dynamic than smooth paper would taped to a wall. Given more time or preparation, we might have stressed more over the lines or cutting, but writing on our leaves of gratitude together proved the best part anyway.